Finally after doing battle with British Institutions for two years I achieved a victory. I prevailed for once using my Yankee ingenuity and my California lawyer personality. Unfortunately it was not big bucks, it did not get my embezzled cash back, nor were there any huge moral principles at stake. But nonetheless I was proud and earned a little brief respect from some British women, which was a miracle in and of itself.
This is the scene. Three times a week I go to water aerobics in the pool (of course) at Dolphin Square. There are approximately twenty women all slightly younger than I am venturing a guess. it is a guess work because birth certificates are not required or examined. The women taking the classes constantly complain amongst themselves, a British trait that I find extremely and phenomenally irritating. They justify their inaction on the fact that no one would listen anyway. They are actually right I have discovered but only because I am the only one that complains to a higher authority – if everyone would complain then something would be done. But changing these women’s viewpoints is impossible.
They constantly complained about the Friday water aerobics instructor – mostly amongst themselves. Others voiced their complaints by not coming to water aerobics on Friday. That of course makes no sense to me. I did not think the woman was great and she was late a lot but I did not complain to the other women or to the higher authority. One Friday we were all in the pool and she was not there. They all bounced up and down in the pool but did nothing. I said that someone was going to have to get out of the pool and go tell the people at the front desk that we were missing an instructor. They continued to bob about like cows, well seals actually. . So I admitted in a determined fashion that it was clearly going to have to be me. So I draped my damp body in a towel and climbed out of the pool and up the stairs to report that there was no instructor. One would think that there would be a system in place whereby the instructor would sign in or punch a time clock or something but this tis the UK where there are no systems.
So because I am very popular and most of the gym staff really like me I got action. An instructor was immediately found and she went down and started the class, then they used the absence without notification as an excuse to fire this unpopular instructor and got a new person to teach the class. All within about five minutes and all because of me. I did get some grudging respect from the old cows, for a few minutes anyway. Five seconds of fame before they found something else to complain about. But believe me I was feeling pretty powerful and smart and California Lawyer Like. I guess my sense of pride lasted about two weeks but now the old cows are complaining about the new instructor who I really like.
So this country grinds you down in the long run. But here is the next chapter. They are complaining about the Friday instructor, I tell them I disagree. One of the malcontents says that “You can have you opinion, I will have mine. “I tell her I do not need her permission to have an opinion. They grumble saying they do not like her style. I say that it is isometric They say she has no training. I tell them that I think they are mistaken but I will ask and get back to them.
I do question the manager and learn that the Friday girl has training in her country of Slovakia and they have a different method of instructing water aerobics as do all countries, Canada and the USA, everywhere. i report this back to the complainer within earshot of the others. I remind them that the the Eastern Bloc has a better track record at the Olympics than does the UK. I leave and go to the class.
Well the wonderful Friday instructor, whose name is B. teaches the class this day, as far as I can tell in the same fashion as she has been teaching in the past. But this time, everyone is full of praise, telling her that she did such a good job and, as I recall, even clapping at the end.
What they do not know is that I have had private conversations with a management employee who shall remain nameless. I privately come to the conclusion that the reason that they do not like the Friday instructors is that the Friday instructors are women. He confirms: “Yes!, they do it all of the time! They complain only about the woman and not the men.” He says it is because they are sex starved. I laugh and now call them the Sex Starved Usuals. The only attention the Usuals get from men, at all, is the male water aerobics instructors.
But then another incident. One Friday, just before Xmas, Barbara is replaced by one of the sexiest black men in the world (in my opinion). I laugh afterwards and say to them that it was an excellent Christmas present to have this gorgeous man. “Was he sexy, and his moves!! “ But I say that the sexiest thing about him is that he knows he is sexy. Then I go upstairs, he is at the desk I relay my conversation with the Usuals to him, particularly the part about knowing he is sexy. He laughs and through his laughter conveys that he knows he is sexy. Of course, I report that to the sex starved usuals at the next class. I report the conversation with him and his confirming laugh. Alexis 10: Sex starved Usuals: 0
But here is another water aerobics story. There is a woman called D. She is known to be rude, complaining and grouchy. Everyone dislikes her avidly, save one person. I also found her obnoxious. but I decided to rise to the challenge and see if I could actually have a decent conversation with her. It was a self dare – I dared myself. So we were both in the sauna and I said to her that we had something in common, that we were both writing a biography of a relative. She responded with a slight amount of interest but said that she was tired and she did not want to talk. “What if I get tired? We would never have a conversation.” She rises to the occasion occasionally and is somewhat in awe of me I have to admit. She smiles at me hesitantly and once initiated conversation. She told me that she HAD to have her jewelry on to come to class. That is really pathetic. She must be so insecure that she has to have the armor of jewelry to go to a water aerobics class..Rumor has it that D’s mother was a psychiatrist and Dawn is writing a biography of her. What does that say about the profession?
But there is more and it is continuing. The strangeness of the Usuals and how they basically act like kindergarteners. They giggle and laugh and form cliques and their behavior is stultifying. For example, all of a sudden they as a group (there are about seven Usuals0 start coming late to the class. So they troop into the class ten minutes late, the class is only forty five minutes long. The other annoying trait they practice is talking amongst themselves constantly during class. It is, of course, highly irritating and what to they have to talk about anyway? I speak to one of the the aerobics instructor about this in one of our private sessions. This is how he deals with it. He just ignores them (as do the other instructors I have observed.) So they get inadequate instruction due to their rudeness and inappropriateness. Group conformity is costing these woman a great deal. They come late and get shoddy attention. On a more profound level I surmise that is the fate of women particularly in London. here is such a drive to conformity, to appropriate behavior, which is actually inappropriate. There is a herd mentality that is exhibited in various ways. This one striking. The class requires paraphernalia, floats, bar bells etc. One day a charming woman from China attended the class and helped carry some of the flotsam and jetsam to its resting place. I immediately followed suit, thinking: “Why did I not think of that?” Every week I help haul the stuff. Does anyone else? No. Why? Do not ask me, I guess because somehow it is not done. I laugh with the instructors and say: “This is why this country is no longer great.” but then I add: “If it ever was!” It will score as a major victory if they ever deign to help. I am not counting on it but I just laugh at them and their pettiness. So do the instructors and probably everyone who happens to be at the pool at the same time.
This is a peer group I am not familiar with in the USA I do have to admit. I worked my whole life and so did not go to water aerobics in the morning. I have, by and large, eschewed gyms although almost always a member, as if payment of a monthly fee brings fitness. I have never seen such immature behavior on the part of older women in my life. I do have difficulty empathizing with them. Their interests and lives seem banal to me. Their focus is their husbands, their children and grand children and tennis. Tennis, at this age? How ridiculous. I wonder if they know what a book looks like. Or what an idea is?
They never complain, except amongst themselves. They complain that the clock has no batteries and they cannot tell time. I, on the other hand, take the clock off the wall and march it up to the reception desk and tell them it needs new batteries. New batteries and installed within minutes and the clock works. Do they thank me? No. i guess that is another thing that is not done.
But my musculature increases. I am the teacher’s pet of all three instructors. Who cares?